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A Framework for Assessing the Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Forest Bioenergy and Biofuel in an Era of Forest Carbon Management

UCD-ITS-RP-13-96

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Suggested Citation:
Tittmann, Peter W. and Sonia Yeh (2013) A Framework for Assessing the Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Forest Bioenergy and Biofuel in an Era of Forest Carbon Management . Journal of Sustainable Forestry 32 (1-2), 108 - 129

The use of forest wastes for the production of bioenergy and liquid biofuels has the potential to offset the use of fossil energy sources. Some studies suggest biofuel and bioenergy produced from the removal of forest waste—products considered to be uneconomical to harvest—generates significant well-to-tank greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings by displacing energy produced from fossil resources. In parallel, an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfire both empirically observed and predicted by climate change models has highlighted the need to actively manage forests to increase the resilience of forests to wildfire. Integrated analysis that takes into account the dynamic interactions between carbon (C) pools resulting from forest management practices; forest fire behavior; and the fate of forest biomass in debris, forest products, and energy production will provide a consistent framework for policy planning that maximize the overall benefits of GHG policy. This integrated approach will have a better chance of balancing the trade-offs and maximizing synergies between C management and sustainability goals. This article outlines a life cycle accounting framework for evaluating the GHG benefits of utilizing forest biomass for bioenergy production under various forest management strategies.